The founder of Activities for Learning, Inc., Dr. Joan A. Cotter holds a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an AMI Montessori diploma for ages 3-6, a master's degree in curriculum and instruction from College of St. Thomas, Minnesota, (now University of St. Thomas) and an earned Ph.D. in mathematics education from the University of Minnesota.
Joan worked as an engineer at Univac (now Unisys), resigning when her children were born. She taught her three children at home before and after school and during summer vacations. To help them learn their arithmetic, she devised card games that were published in her first book, Math Card Games: 300 Games for Learning and Enjoying Math.
After starting a Montessori preschool, Joan taught in several Montessori schools and incorporated Suzuki violin and piano. She also taught mathematics in grades 6-8 and worked with children with learning disabilities.
Dr. Cotter designed the double-sided AL Abacus and wrote RightStart Mathematics, a comprehensive K-4 mathematics program that incorporates visualization, the AL Abacus, and math card games. The RightStart curriculum is an outgrowth of her doctoral research. Having recently completed RightStart Geometric Approach for middle school, she currently conducts workshops and presents at conferences nationally and internationally.
Joan and her husband, Al, have three adult children and four grandchildren. Dr. Joan A. Cotter can be reached by email at JoanCotter@RightStartMath.com.